Is a House for Rent Safe on Craigslist? 7 Tips To Avoid

When you’re searching Craigslist for a new house to rent, don’t be so excited that you don’t take the time to do your due diligence. Scammers have made themselves comfortable on Craigslist and are ready to pounce on people who get too excited to find the perfect place to live.

Follow these tips to avoid being duped by the latest rental scam so you can continue with your search without interruption.

In our review of a house for rent safe on Craigslist, we found some shocking information. Apparently, more than 25% of Craigslist rental ads are frauds, according to a recent survey. However, some rental scams stay on Craigslist for 20 hours even after removing suspicious ads. Some apartment-seekers could be lured into their doom within that time frame.

Craigslist Rental Scams: How Do They Work?

Scams targeting renters on Craigslist almost always involve houses and apartments for rent. In reality, these properties are not available for rent. To commit frauds, scammers search online for vacant homes listed for sale.

On Craigslist, scammers post the purported house or apartment for rent using a few of the photos that have already been posted online of the actual property. 

The scammers don’t even have the keys or own the house: because they don’t own it! They have never been to the house and have never been inside!

Using the same pictures, it is straightforward to create the illusion that an empty house is for rent. 

There are a lot of scammers out there, and they are sneaky and clever, and they know exactly what they are doing to steal money from innocent people searching for a rental. Even more challenging is that it’s impossible to track these scammers since it’s not possible to find out where they are located.

As an example, here is a Craigslist post advertising a single-family home in Frederick, Maryland. REALTORS® had listed the house for sale on behalf of the homeowners.

A scammer took advantage of the listing to create a fake Craigslist ad using the information it contained, including a picture.

How To Find If It’s A Scam?

Check out other ads from similar houses once you’ve identified a place you like. In our review of a home for rent safe on Craigslist, it’s essential to mention how to find if the property on Craigslist is a scam or legit.

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If there aren’t any, you may be looking at an orphan ad, which scammers often use to lure potential victims in. Also, take note of details like how long it will take to get keys and who is showing you around the house; if anything seems fishy or too good to be true, it probably is. 

When it comes time to pay, use a credit card instead of cash whenever possible; you can always dispute charges later if something goes wrong. And lastly, ask yourself whether your gut tells you something is off: listen to it! 

Most scams involve someone trying to gain your trust through deception. If something doesn’t feel right, walk away. You have nothing to lose by being cautious and everything to lose by not being so. 

Once you sign that lease, you are legally bound to pay rent even if your landlord disappears. So be careful when taking these steps.

7 Tips For Staying Safe When Renting A House On Craigslist

If you are on the hunt for a new place to live, you might be considering renting from someone who has posted their house or apartment on Craigslist. 

However, if you aren’t careful, you could deal with unsafe living conditions and people who aren’t honest about what they are offering. Here are 7 tips for staying safe when renting on Craigslist.

Do Your Research

So, how do you know if a potential landlord is trustworthy? The easiest way to assess their trustworthiness is by looking at their history. To find out whether a landlord has a track record of questionable behavior, look at their review page on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. 

Always ask for references from previous tenants and proof that your deposit will be protected if something goes wrong. And always read through a lease before signing anything!

Get Your Own Lawyer

It’s easy to feel safe renting a home from someone you’ve never met. After all, if they need your money, they have every incentive, to be honest.

But to play it safe, even when dealing with people who seem legitimate, find an attorney in their area and have them look over all legal documents before signing anything. 

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If something goes wrong, you’ll have help fighting for your rights. (It can also be helpful to get a background check on anyone offering you housing.) And remember: If something sounds too good to be true—it probably is.

Do Not Give Out Personal Information

When communicating with someone about renting a home on Craigslist, don’t give out personal information (such as your social security number, bank account numbers, and credit card information). 

A good rule of thumb

If you wouldn’t hand over that info to someone at your door or in a coffee shop, don’t do it online. Also, be wary if anyone asks you to wire them money or send cash as part of an arrangement. 

Many scammers use fake names and email addresses when reaching out to potential victims. To verify whether a prospective renter is legit, contact local authorities or check public records—and always meet in person before handing over any money.

Do Your Due Diligence Before Sending Money

Like eBay and other online auction sites, Craigslist has buyer protection programs. However, make sure you do your due diligence before sending any money.

Check if your rental is registered with the local county or city property tax authority to ensure it’s not owned by someone else who has had their identity stolen. 

The best way to protect yourself against scams when renting homes through Craigslist is to use common sense and exercise caution.

If you don’t find anything suspicious, call utility companies to check that service is active at that address. If something doesn’t seem right about a house for rent, walk away from it!

Pictures Can Be Deceiving; Ask Questions

Before you sign any contract or put down any money, ask to see proof that your potential landlord is who they say they are. This means looking up their phone number and calling them. If they don’t answer, renting from them is probably not a good idea. 

You should also try asking friends and family if they know anyone else who has rented through Craigslist before. You may find that others have had bad experiences with scammers using other people’s listings!

Talk With Neighbors

Talk to your neighbors, especially those living next door to or across from where you’re looking at rental properties. If they haven’t lived there long, ask them how their property managers treat them and their experience with that property manager. 

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Suppose you can get references from former tenants who rented from that specific property manager, contact them as well. In that case, you want to know if anything wrong has happened in recent history. 

And remember: landlords aren’t always trustworthy. Even if someone says they own a property outright, don’t take it at face value; do some digging into county records to confirm whether or not that person is listed as an owner.

Document Everything

Before you rent a house on craigslist:

  • Have all correspondence in writing.
  • Have a designated time/place to meet in person.
  • Record all of your text conversations. 

If something ever goes wrong with your rental deal, you’ll have proof that you were promised one thing and ended up with another. Also, take photos of any damage present when you move in. These photos will help you prove your case down the road if there is ever a dispute.

Craigslist Rental Scams: How To Report?

There are several ways to report a scam on Craigslist if you suspect you’ve been scammed. Likewise, you might want to check with the local police and the attorney general in your state to see if they have any other options.

Here are three ways you can report the Craigslist Rental Scam to authorities.

  1. FTC Complaint Form or call 877-FTC-HELP
  2. The Internet Fraud Complaint Center
  3. Email Craigslist

You should report the listing to Craigslist if you suspect someone is trying to run a scam using your house. Provide as many details as possible about the listing in an email to abuse@craigslist.org. Send an email that includes the URL (or 8-digit post number).

Final Verdict – Is a House for Rent Safe on Craigslist? 

Lastly, I would like to mention in our review (Is a house for rent safe on Craigslist) is a rental listing may not be suitable if it seems out of place, for whatever reason. 

It is essential to be cautious when using Craigslist. Do not use Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace when looking for a rental because scammers love the sites to post their ads on. These sites are full of scams.